The civil administration’s disaster management team was nowhere to be seen at the site where nine houses were swept away at Rampur Seuri labour colony. It was a police sub-inspector who happened to cross the area while going to his police post when he saw the water inching closer to the banks and got the colony residents evacuated. No ambulance, no rescue operations team, no first aid was sent to the spot despite knowing that one by one the houses were being swept away. This despite the fact that states were put on high alert due to heavy rain.
Panchkula Deputy Commissioner Mukul Kumar, however, told Chandigarh Newsline, “It was a joint operation. Our Naib Tehsildar and Tehsildar were there at the spot.” Around 6 pm Monday, when the water was released from the dam, Sub-Inspector Sukhwinder Singh was crossing the bridge near Amaravati.
“I saw that the water was touching even up to 15 ft high and soil was eroding. I got out of my car and first ran up to the stretch to stop the traffic from that side. Gradually, cracks started appearing on the stretch. I could even feel the road level going a bit down while standing,” he said.
Even as there was traffic jam due to diversion, the SI rushed to evacuate residents of the colony whose houses were along the bank. “Although initially, they were not listening to us, I along with two policemen, persuaded them and got them out. And the same happened – what we feared – one by one the houses were pulled down by the water currents,” he said.
Singh added, “How much could I have done alone? At that point of time, we didn’t know whether to consider the traffic situation or to get the residents evacuated – but lives are important. As power supply to the colony was switched off, we didn’t even have searchlights. The situation would have been all the more grave had even a single person from the colony gone missing.”
Residents of the colony had staged a protest on the highway Monday night alleging that they received no help from the administration. Although the traffic flow returned to normal after two hours, the police lodged an FIR against unidentified persons.